An interesting claim, don’t you think, calling the Internet “part poem, part meditative salve”? At first I was going to start by telling you that the Internet referred to in the title isn’t the Internet, the global computer network through which you have reached this blog post, but, in a way, it is. You see, the title of this post refers to an essay entitled “The Internet,” written by Lisa Schamess and published in the inaugural issue of TOSKA Magazine last Friday.1 While it was Lisa’s friend Kevin McMamara who called her essay “Part poem, part meditative salve,” Lisa, I think, would argue that our shared global computer network is “Part poem, part meditative salve.”
The essay is one of her memoir pieces, and those are always hard for me, have always been hard for me, for a number of reasons. They’re hard for me because they focus on the 13 months between the birth of Miss Mo, Lisa’s daughter, and the death of Gil, Lisa’s husband. At first I found them difficult because Lisa has always been a real person to me, a friend whose writing I began reading because she was a friend, and so the struggles and difficulties and pain and loss she writes of have never been experiences of a stranger but of someone I cared about. And now there’s lots of layers. With each new piece I learn more about a pivotal event in the life of the woman I shall marry in 25 days, and I learn more about the man whose daughter I am raising, a daughter, I’m realizing, I will soon have been actively parenting longer than he was able to. They’re hardest on me, though, because while Lisa has made peace with her past, I feel an intense need to reach out and comfort the woman she was 12 years ago, a woman I wouldn’t even know for another 5 years, a woman who is very real and is very much in need of comfort. I want her to be spared from that pain and loss. I want her to have the life with her husband and her daughter denied to her. And much of my reaction is rooted in the fact that I love her so deeply. There’s no easy way to navigate that.
“The Internet” is different from her other memoir pieces, though. Different than pieces like “Light & Shadow” or “House of Memory” or the unpublished pieces that are making up the memoir. It is part poem, part meditative salve. It’s also got force to it. I want to say it has an edge. It does, but it’s not all edge. Somehow Lisa’s made some of the gentlest parts hard and the hardest parts gentle. It’s an attempt to capture and share something that can’t be captured and shared. It’s not quite like anything I’ve read by her. While “Light & Shadow” and “House of Memory” are my favorite published pieces, “The Internet” surpasses them as a work of art. And it is very much a work of art.
But don’t just listen to me. I’m biased. I mean, I am marrying her. You could also say that her friends and my friends are biased, and they are, but in sharing her essay on Facebook last Friday, they didn’t need add comments like these: “This is big in all the beautiful ways that matter”;2 “Sad, sexy, sweet and smart. Read it”;3 and “Brilliant, clever, and painful – the kind of writing that stays in my head long after I’ve read it.”4 I could go on, but I won’t. I think you’ve got the idea. So just read it and find out for yourself how the Internet and “The Internet” are part poem and part meditative salve.
And take a look at the rest of TOSKA while you’re at it. They’ve produced a good inaugural issue. It’s worth reading and they are worth following.